Friday June 22, 2012
Let best and brightest serve
YOUR recent article regarding the setting up of a Special Review Commission on Civil Service Transformation headed by former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Tun Azmi is indeed welcome news to engineers currently serving in the public sector.
The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), as the national professional body representing the interests of engineers in the country, applauds this initiative and fully supports its implementation.
The IEM agrees that the focal points are remuneration and the type of civil service required, as indeed these are the two fundamental elements that will have an immediate impact on civil servants at large even though there may be other elements requiring scrutiny.
These two elements affect motivation and translate directly into a more effective and efficient workforce.
In addressing the issues above, the IEM hopes that engineers in the public sector will be given due consideration in their promotion scheme. Serving professionals in the public service until today have not had a good service scheme commensurate with their capacity and contribution.
In fact, the service scheme for professionals is often perceived to be an afterthought rather than a plan conceived with the special capability and characteristics of professionals in mind.
Perhaps now with the commission’s study, engineers and other professionals will be recognised as being capable of not only contributing directly to development and nation-building but also serve as leaders and decision-makers at top levels of the civil service.
Engineers in the public sector have often been demotivated by the existing service schemes that offer them less than equal terms and opportunities compared with their peers in the administrative and diplomatic services. The IEM is very keen to see engineers provided with not only equal prospects but also a pathway that enables them to take top posts in the public sector.
They should not be limited to what is available in engineering departments like the Public Works Department (JKR) and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS). Excluding engineers and other professionals from top posts is tantamount to denying the nation the best to lead.
The same restriction in the service scheme for professionals is evident throughout the public sector. Engineers pursuing a career in the armed forces, for example, usually have an early exit, for the highest rank they can rise to is that of a Maj-Gen/Rear Adm equivalent.
It is rare for an engineer to rise to the rank of a Lieut-Gen/Vice-Adm or higher. We must realise that an engineer in the Armed Forces is exposed to the same risks when placed in harms’ way as a fellow combatant of equivalent or higher rank.
Engineers have technical expertise and know-how. The investment in grooming them for specialised technical functions should not be considered a loss to the engineering departments, but rather as a gain to the public sector overall.
They bring with them the same discipline, methodology and analytical approaches that have made them successful as engineers, and which can continue to be an asset in helping them in the top posts in the public sector.
It is the disparity in remuneration packages and opportunities in career advancement between the professional services, compared with those in the administrative and diplomatic services, that dampens the motivation of an engineer and the loss of a potential leader in the public sector.
Providing professionals with a pathway to the top will motivate the best amongst the professionals, including engineers, with refreshing and exciting job prospects that will drive them to go beyond traditional boundaries and into a brave new world. We are confident that professionals, when given the opportunity to reach the top echelons of the civil service, will bring with them a different perspective that will transform the nation and take us to greater heights.
The IEM, the largest membership-based professional engineering organisation in Malaysia, is very keen to be invited to give its views to the Special Review Commission on Public Service Transformation.
We would like to play our part in ensuring that not only are engineers accorded their due prospects, but a pathway be made available for the best amongst them to move from engineering to the top posts of the civil service.
IR. PROF JEFFREY CHIANG CHOONG LUIN,
Institution of Engineers Malaysia, Petaling Jaya